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Appetite for adventure

Oak Crest resident willing to take risks except when it comes to finding her dream home

Created date

September 25th, 2015
Oak Crest resident
Oak Crest resident

If there is one motto that best describes Gaynel “Mickey” Buterbaugh, it would be, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” At 83, Mickey, a mother and retired nurse, is flying high (literally) after landing at Oak Crest, an Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md. 

This June, while visiting Albuquerque, N.M., for a Daughters of the Nile convention, Mickey’s appetite for adventure took her on a hot air balloon ride, her second in ten years.

“It was a perfect June day!” says Mickey. “We woke up at 5:00 in the morning and drove to a huge field, and, my golly, there must have been six balloons being fired up at the same time. They loaded us into the basket, and then they pulled a rope to allow hot air to fill up the balloon. As soon as the balloon fills up, you begin to lift off the ground, and off you go.”

Rainbow Ryders, the company Mickey flew with out of Albuquerque, offers a variety of hot air balloon experiences. The one-hour balloon ride lifts adventure-seekers thousands of feet into the air with unobstructed views for 70 to 80 miles in every direction.  

“It’s really a neat experience. There were many other balloons floating around us. When you are up there floating, you are only moving about four miles per hour. It feels like you are standing still, and the whole world is moving around you. It’s quiet, peaceful—just wonderful!” says Mickey.

The trip came only three months after another adventure, moving from her decades-old house in Rosedale to a maintenance-free apartment home at Oak Crest.  

“My kids both live in Florida, and they were worried about me living alone,” says Mickey, a widow. “I thought about moving to Florida, but since they each live on different coasts, one on the Gulf side and the other on the Atlantic, I would have to choose one or the other. I didn’t want to do that. I was familiar with Oak Crest because I had many friends who already lived here. I had visited them and knew what the community offered.” 

New journey

Downsizing from a four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom apartment would be an adventure in itself, but gaining an 87-acre campus full of amenities would be worth the trade-off. 

“You can’t gain anything unless you are willing to take a chance,” says Mickey. “It’s difficult to downsize, but it has to be done because you can’t take everything with you. From time to time, I will stop and say, ‘Oh that’s right, I didn’t bring this or that,’ but eventually you realize you don’t need it.”

An avid crafter, one of the items on Mickey’s wish list was a dedicated space to do what she loves. So a two-bedroom apartment was a must-have.

“I like to make wreaths and Christmas ornaments, and I do basket weaving. So it was important to me to have a workspace in my apartment and a place to store all of my supplies,” says Mickey. 

After touring several two-bedroom options, one particular apartment caught her eye. 

“I loved the location of this apartment,” says Mickey. “When you look out the window, you see the beautiful pond and all the trees and flowers below. It’s like my own big back yard.”

The continuing care aspect of the community was one of the things that really attracted Mickey to Oak Crest. 

“I like the fact that there are three levels of care: independent, assisted living, and [nursing care]. My kids are ecstatic I’m here. They love the fact that they know I’m safe and sound, and they don’t have to worry about the future,” says Mickey, who recently returned from visiting her kids in Florida. “I have no regrets, no regrets at all.” 

As the holidays approach, Mickey says she looks forward to making and selling her crafts and hopes to join a line dancing group. Next year, she plans to visit Illinois for another Daughters of the Nile conference, and the year after that, she’s going to Niagara, N.Y., where she will no doubt embark on her next adventure.